When Wrath first came along I wrote a piece about how warlock utility in 25 man raids had all but disappeared. I had many dissenters to that statement, using examples such as Soul Stones and the like. One that came up a few times was the Felhound and how useful he is. I have to agree, he's a regular bag of tricks, but when it comes to 25 man raiding he's been (rightly) left in the kennel for quite some time. This is about to change.
"But Dominic, you seething pot of demonic mage-hating bile..." I hear you cry "...where is all the mage-hate?" Well, yes, I can imagine the title did lead you to expect an article so vitriolic and anti-arcane as to leave nothing more in its wake than quivering lumps of nerdy arcanists, armpit-deep in tears; and maybe a lost looking sheep. I'm not sure I can do that though, as I don't really hate mages -- that point is really going to need clarifying.
The thing is, hating mages (or anything) takes effort, and frankly I can't be bothered to muster that much effort to spend on mages. Disdain, derision and contempt are all free, and I feel I have more than enough of that to spare. You see, while mages may be nasty and irritating like cockroaches or sand in your swimsuit, they have their place. You don't necessarily want them around you or making their presence felt, but you have to accept that sand and bugs have their uses. Mage players are also pretty special, though I refer to the great Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw for his definition of 'special':
That said, I'm not opposed to having the odd dig at mages, and in particular one extra-special mage, whom I'm very pleased to see is even referred to as Archmage Pants by his own commenters and the WoW.com staff. I've also noted that a certain former WoW.com columnist has launched a 'war' on warlocks. It seems that hunters have declared an open season for locks, even going so far as to have a particular talent build for the task. It tickles me greatly that so many hunters are investing so much time effort into trying to annoy warlocks. I found it especially amusing to imagine the hunter that, despite making it his goal to hunt locks, was having such a hard time of it he put together (and paid gold to get) a talent build to give him a better chance."I'm sorry my son ate your shoes, he's a little bit special."
Anyway, all that aside, lets talk about the Felhunter. As with the Succubus quests, there is an awful lot of running about required to get these quests complete, so be very thankful you can now ride about the place. The chains are almost exactly the same for Horde and Alliance. First you go speak to someone in the Barrens who sends you to Undercity or Ironforge (respectively). Then you head out to grab a book and a piece of paper (see map).
Once you have those it's off to the Wetlands to fetch a few sticks (how appropriate) and back to Strahad Farsan in the Barrens for the hand-in. You also receive a soul bag but as I mentioned in a previous article, these aren't overly handy while questing. It might be worth keeping, but probably not.
If you get all through that and summon your Felhunter at level 30 then he'll only know the one trick, that's Devour Magic. This is a cool little trick that will either remove a magic debuff from a friendly character or a buff from an enemy. When soloing a nice macro to target the ability is:
This will try and take a debuff from you, failing that from himself, failing that it'll try and take a buff from your target. As an extra bonus, every magic effect he devours will heal him up a bit. This can come in pretty handy when questing alone and you come up against a caster./use [target=player][target=pet]Devour Magic
The only time I have actively used this ability in a raid situation was in Karazhan (Maiden of Virtue), mostly having the ability on auto-cast is sufficient.
At level 32 your Felhunter will learn Fel Intelligence. This is where a lot of the 'lock utility' that was mentioned in the first paragraph was coming from. It's true, this is a nice party buff if your party doesn't include a priest or a mage, but does include several other casters. I don't find myself in that situation very often and to be honest this buff is just a little extra love from the puppy when you have him out for some other reason.
Level 36 sees him learn Spell Lock. This is a hugely valuable ability in PvP (so I'm told) and in PvE it's kinda nice too. When you're fighting a caster you can use this to shut them up completely. Often this means that they come up to you and hit you with laughably puny mage-fists. All the while you are tearing their body and soul asunder with shadow and flame. Nice.
Again though, in a raid this ability is pretty useless. I have only had it manually cast once, again back in Kara on Aran. Since then I've used the puppy on Faction Champions where he's great for pestering the healers (especially the one-school paladin), but that was just a case of using auto-cast once more.
The Felhunter's final ability to learn comes in at level 42. This is Shadow Bite, a nice little direct damage ability. The puppy does have a melee attack as well so he's not just been humping your opponent's leg between snacks until now, but the ability can double the damage this little 'goggie' can do. Remember that it increases in damage for each DoT you have on the target.
The Felhunter is (seemingly) intended to be the minion associated with the affliction talent tree. As far as end-game raiding was concerned, this hasn't really been the case so far; the Succubus and Imp have had the job. Now that patch 3.3 has landed there's been a change. Mostly due to the buffs that Shadow Bite has received, more damage can be gained from the Felhunter. Affliction is pulling the biggest raid numbers on paper but we're yet to see if there's going to be much of a conversion from Destruction and a flood of puppies in raids.
Before I end this article I did want to congratulate Archmage Pants on something. That might be a bit of a surprise but you see it appears he's also not one to put too much effort into his hate. You are probably aware of the IHATEWARLOCKS book-club he founded. I had a quick look back to the naming of this group and found that the acronym apparently stands for "Interracial Humanitarian Association of Tauren and Everyone in WoW Against Race Limits On Choosing Kinship with Sorcerers,"...
What? Oh, so it was all about getting cows to become casters. I see.
Well, after a few minutes thought I offer this alternative: "Insipid Half-baked Arcanists Throwing Emo-fits at Warlocks Although Really Lamenting their Own Character's Known Sadness" Maybe it will catch on or perhaps you have your own version.